LANSING — Michigan’s new budget enables the state to expand free and low-cost childcare service to more families, the governor’s office announced this week.
Governor Whitmer announced Wednesday the expansion of free or low-cost childcare to 105,000 more children through expanded income eligibility criteria. Families of four earning up to $49,000 will now be eligible for free or low-cost childcare under the new criteria.
The state says the initiative is meant to boost Michigan’s economic momentum after a pandemic slump by helping parents get back to work. The state estimates that more than 200,000 women haven’t returned to the workforce after the reopening of the economy and expanded unemployment eligibility ran out.
But the pandemic is far from over in Michigan, which is back to leading the U.S. in COVID-19 cases, with hospitalizations steadily increasing for several weeks and hitting a seven-month high on Monday. The state has seen a spike of more that 20,000 cases and 90 deaths from just over the last few days.
The state reached its 70 percent goal
In addition to expanding eligibility, beginning immediately, family contributions — or the amount parents receiving state childcare support are required to pay toward the cost of care — are waived until Sept. 30. This lifts some of the financial burden on the nearly 40,000 families currently receiving state childcare support, the state says.
Eligible families must apply to receive childcare support through the Child Development & Care Program, commonly called the childcare subsidy. Families must be income eligible, have a child under age 12 and have an eligible need, such as working or going to school, to qualify. Visit NewMiBridges.Michigan.gov to apply today. Families should visit GreatStarttoQuality.org to figure out what care that meets their needs.
“We need to continue working hard to drive down costs for families and expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare so parents can go to work knowing that their kids are safe and learning,” Whitmer said. “I was proud to put childcare first in the bipartisan budget I signed in September.
“Together, we lowered costs for working families by expanding low or no-cost care to 105,000 kids and providing grants to improve childcare programs and empower childcare professionals. Countless working parents rely on childcare and we must continue expanding high-quality care to help every working family thrive. With this investment, we can ensure kids and working families succeed as we continue ushering in a new era of prosperity for our communities.”